Bold initiatives from politicians rarely come to reality in an election year.

Talk, yes. But action? That’s much harder to come by.

America desperately needs some boldness from Washington when it comes to tax policies. And we’re not talking about the same old squabble that’s cropped up in Congress regarding Bush-era tax cuts.

In simple terms, Republicans want to extend those cuts, while Democrats want to keep them for all but top income earners. That’s basically individuals earning $200,000 or more annually and couples with incomes of $250,000.

There are other details involved in this debate, but we’ve heard them before. The clash between parties has more to do with firing up loyalists and attacking the opposition rather than working toward a real resolution and a tax structure that makes sense.

During the battle to pass health care legislation pushed by Democrats, much was made of the fact that no one in Congress had actually read the 2,400-page bill. But we wonder how many lawmakers have read the massive federal tax code, which gets bigger with each passing year.

That expansion is mainly because of new loopholes pushed by special interests. And typically, these additions aren’t seriously examined and debated on the floor. They are inserted by lawmakers looking to curry favor.

It’s a good way to gain crucial campaign contributions — not that anyone involved will ever admit a connection between the two.

When it comes to tax policies in Washington, we hear a lot of talk about “class warfare” from both sides. But the inequities built into the system — which create a massive industry devoted to legal tax dodges — fuel that.

These loopholes aren’t the creation of one party; they are a consequence of bipartisan special-interest politics and lobbying that clashes with the notion of fairness and sensible tax rules. Roughly 48 percent of federal tax filers pay no income tax — not all of them in the lower income brackets. That sort of statistic makes it difficult to justify the existing system to those who do pay.

Real leadership in Washington would address the problem of a bloated tax code, pushing for fewer graduated rates and generally producing a simpler, more comprehensible system.

Some people may complain about a leveling of rates, arguing the wealthy should pay higher amounts. But a reform that closes loopholes and discourages manipulation of the tax code will help to ensure people in the upper-income brackets pay their share.

A key goal of any tax reform must be fairness — and the simplicity that helps to make the federal tax code more understandable. But for that to happen, the American people must push for it. Politicians are more interested in confrontation than reform.

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